From Keighley News, 16th November 2017
Written by Miran Rahman
OPPOSITION has been voiced to a massive housing scheme earmarked for green belt land in Keighley. Up to 200 homes could be built at the site, on the town's southern edge.
This week, concerned politicians and community representatives said the land – in Goose Cote Lane – marked a clear boundary to built-up Keighley and must be preserved. But the developer's agent defended the proposal.
Public consultation is now underway ahead of a planning application being submitted by GCL Developments.
Keighley West councillor Cath Bacon said the land required "special circumstances" for any housing project.
"I'm vehemently opposed to development on green belt," she said.
"Goose Cote Lane marks the boundary of the built-up part of Keighley in that direction, and that green belt is there for a reason.
"Also, the area doesn't have the necessary road or sewer capacity for this many new homes."
Keighley MP John Grogan agreed that apart from in exceptional situations, green belt should not be built on.
He added: "Goose Cote Lane is a strong, clear boundary to the built-up area of Keighley and in my view should remain so.
"The housing target for Keighley is 4,500 new dwellings between now and 2030.
"The next step for Bradford Council is to propose site allocations, and every effort must be made to find brownfield sites for housing so that sites like that at Goose Cote Lane are not needed."
Town councillor Martin Walker, of the Bogthorn and Exley Head ward, fears infrastructure in the area wouldn't support the scheme.
"If this does turn out to be another 200 homes it would be a huge development in the context of Goose Cote Lane," he said.
"We already have two other big housing schemes being constructed nearby, at Occupation Lane and on the old Bronte School site, and the infrastructure just isn't there.
"Primary schools and health centres are full. Adding more and more houses, with more people and cars, is going to overwhelm the infrastructure."
Fellow town councillor Barry Thorne, who represents Bracken Bank and Ingrow ward, said: "We should instead be looking at building more social housing, which would be available at affordable rents. That is where the gap in the market is.
"Green belt is very precious. What we have in Keighley now is a massive area where they were meant to build a cinema and shopping centre.
"That's now completely void. Maybe that's where they should be building new houses – in the town centre?"
Sam Dewar – director of agent DPA Planning Ltd, which is acting for GCL – says that whilst he acknowledges the fields are green belt, they had previously been earmarked by Bradford Council in its Local Plan for the Bradford District-Allocations Development Plan document, as a possible development site.
He said the council had not identified a five-year supply of housing.
About 100 of the proposed homes would provide accommodation for over-50s.
Mr Dewar added: "The actual application would need to include a landscape visual impact assessment and transport and ecology assessments.
"And we'd be providing everything the council requires with regards to contributions towards things like education.
"The developer is looking at having half of the new units designed for the over 50s. You don't often see that with this type of scheme and it's very refreshing. It would help address the housing crisis."
Notices regarding the consultation have been put up on lampposts along Goose Cote Lane.
They state: "This is a pre-application consultation, identifying the area for residential development. Technical studies are under way as part of the planning application preparation.
"Once finalised, a planning application will be submitted to the council, who will carry out a period of statutory consultation."